Monday, March 30, 2009

Legalize it!

Welcome to Monday.  After two weeks guest hosting the noon-3 slot on Air America Radio, I'm back to my regular Radio or Not home.  

When I returned from my trip to Los Angeles for Radio & Records magazine's Talk Radio Seminar, my mind was still filled with images of all the Medical Marijuana "Dispensaries" that have popped up around California in the year since I'd last visited.  One of my first guests during the two week stint on Air America was Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).  You can listen back to that interview by clicking here.

I truly had not planned to revisit the topic during the two weeks I had on Air America... until President Obama laughed off a question about the topic during his first-ever Online Town Hall Meeting on Thursday.  

See how he handled the most-asked/most-voted-for question for yourself:

With all due respect Mr. President, the "online audience" is comprised of the people who contributed heavily to your campaign and elected you president!

Seriously, I can play devil's advocate here and explain how this president has to play it straight, so to speak, in order to get his bigger priorities through.  But to laugh it off in this matter was wrong, on many levels.

Think about it... If the questions had been about legalizing heroin or cocaine, I don't believe his response would have been accompanied by laughter.  And to make it even more insulting, he didn't even treat the question as a legitimate one;  he threw it in as an aside saying that lots of people asked about it, but pooh-poohed it as something those stoners hitting on the bong while surfing the web put out there as a joke.

The fact it that we're serious.

On Friday, I contacted Jack Cole, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (,  and he joined me on my Air America show for an eye-opening interview.  After a 26-year career with the New Jersey State Police, twelve of them spent as an undercover narcotics officer, he formed this organization and advocates for the legalization of all drugs.  His reasoning is sound, and his facts and figures undeniable.  Hear our interview here.

After I had already booked Mr. Cole to come on the show, I read an article about legislation that had been quietly introduced by Sen. Jim Webb of VA, and backed by Sen. Arlen Specter, which has the potential to dramatically alter US drug laws.   The thrust of the legislation deals with our prison system, which Webb calls a "national disgrace" and proposes a blue ribbon panel to assess and offer concrete recommendations for its reform -- to "responsibly reduce the overall incarceration rate; improve federal and local responses to international and domestic gang violence; restructure our approach to drug policy; improve the treatment of mental illness; improve prison administration, and establish a system for reintegrating ex-offenders."

I will likely produce a new podcast tomorrow, but for now, enjoy my interviews with NORML's Allen St. Pierre, and LEAP's Jack A. Cole by clicking on their respective links.